And to think, nobody likes a tax collector
After solving the riddle of American capitalism, I’ve decided to move to Paris to live above Johnny Depp’s garage. Enough of these Freedom Fries and this Freedom Toast. But before I go, out of love for my countrymen, I thought I might share my findings.
The key to American capitalism is this: Our government is deliberately inefficient in order to create jobs and to make us spend our money. As a result, we work more hours and enjoy less vacation time than anyone, anywhere, except Ethiopia and Somalia.
(Of course, while we are missing little Jimmy’s tee ball game, we can take pride in the knowledge that our sacrifices ensure America maintains the largest Gross National Product in the world. Little Jimmy will understand, won’t he?)
This inefficiency is largely the reason we need attorneys for just about everything, and it’s entirely the reason professional tax preparers exist at all. Government has failed to provide us with a tax payment system that any reasonable American can use, and that is inexcusable.
The concept of paying someone so that you can pay someone is absurd.
What’s worse, if you try to save a few bucks by completing your own tax forms, the appropriate agencies will be waiting for any and every opportunity to penalize you for it, costing you the money you had hoped to save.
Surprise! I have my own, recent example.
The IRS had no difficulty accepting my tax forms. Probably because the federal government owed me money.
I had hoped to file online, but after reading that the IRS cannot directly offer tax preparation software because that wouldn’t be a very capitalist thing to do, I became frustrated and decided to stick with my old standby, the 1040 EZ.
Things didn’t go so smoothly with the Indiana Dept. of Revenue. I owed some $648 to the Hoosier state because, unbeknownst to me, my employer for much of 2002 didn’t withhold any state taxes. Luckily, I had sufficient funds, and it was no big deal.
A few weeks ago, the IDR sent me a letter saying ‘remittance’ was not received with my completed tax form. I immediately picked up the phone and gave IDR a call.
A recording informed me that their offices close at 3:15 p.m. I guess not all Americans work more hours and enjoy less vacation. So, I wrote a check and a letter. Because, apparently, no one at IDR read my letter, I figured someone should get to enjoy it.
Here are a few of the key points:
Included you will find a check for the amount of my tax balance. Note that neither the penalty imposed by your agency nor the daily interest accrued has been included due to the fact that I am now sending payment for the second time.
Your agency has provided me with the following explanation:
‘Your tax return was received without a remittance. Please remit the amount shown.’
Then it is my understanding that you did, in fact, receive my completed tax return form and therefore should have noted that the box indicating payment by credit card was checked. It should have also been noted that all relevant credit card information was supplied to facilitate that payment. Obviously, these things were not noted.
No wonder Indiana is suffering from a budgetary shortfall.
It is entirely possible the Indiana Dept. of Revenue, which uses words like ‘remittance’ to describe payment, may also require some obscure act, such as a voodoo ritual or pinkie swear, be made concurrent to furnishing payment.
No doubt if I reread the voluminous instruction manual made conveniently available to me at the local library, in some subparagraph of some subsection of some chapter I would discover the jig, codeword or mathematical theorem which would have made it possible for you to accept my payment.
Since one of us has proven incompetent in utilizing the payment by credit card method, I have decided to include a personal check this time.
Should your Collections Division have difficulty, please send me more threatening correspondence. Be sure to include alarming statements written entirely in capital letters utilizing terms like TAX WARRANT which necessitate the inclusion of overtly calming explanations filled with prophetic undertones like: THIS IS NOT AN ARREST WARRANT.
IDR responded with a computer generated form which said partial payment had been received and I still owe $73.21 ‘ the penalty and interest. There was no mention of my letter, just as there had been no mention of my credit card information.
I probably did something wrong, somehow. But how would I even know? I mean, that’s the whole point ‘ the system is so complex that the form requires an instructional manual.
At any rate, I was going to pay the rest of it, I really was, but it was the principle of the thing that got to me.
So, I sent another letter.
I wonder if I’ll go to jail. I wonder if I’ll be deported.
If I had only known, I could’ve spent that $70 having my taxes done.
Vive la France!